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Dave Vector

3 Time-saver tools: 1.) Selection Sets, 2.) Select By, 3.) Colour Modify

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First off,  thank you for Affinity Designer's powerful toolset.  It's a joy to use!

When I am using Affinity Designer to create complicated presentations with multiple artboards and nested groupings, I wish for 3 key tools to make my job faster, easier, and more controlled.  Tools that obliterate tedious tasks can mean the difference between enjoyable and monotonous, between making money and losing money as a designer.  Let me know if you think these three suggestions should be added to Affinity Designer.  Apologies if these have already been suggested...


a.       Summary – Select a bunch of objects across artboards, even within groups, and save them out as a selection set.

b.       Distinction – Not the same as grouping because the selection set can span multiple groups.  Also spans objects located on different artboards.

c.       Procedure – Select the objects you wish to have in the selection set, save them as a selection set, give the set a unique name.  Choose your selection set from a list at any time.  The selection is made, ready to modify, hide/unhide, lock/unlock, etc.

d.       Advantages, examples – Easy to select multiple objects within complicated group structures.  Many 3D apps have this, like 3DSMax.


2.       SELECT BY…

a.       Summary – The “Select By” command allows you to select objects by stroke, fill, or effect properties.

b.       Procedure – Select the source object with the properties you wish to select, activate the “select by” command, choose the properties you wish to select by (stroke, fill, effect) Affinity Designer will select all the matching objects.

c.       Advantages, examples – Allows you to select all objects with similar properties and easily change those properties.  E.g.: If you determined that your assets would look slightly better with a 6-pt. line thickness, rather than a 4-pt. line thickness, you can select them all and change them easily, without adjusting adjacent objects with a 5-pt. stroke.  Adobe Illustrator has this.



a.       Summary – If a group of selected objects have the exact same stroke and fill colour, this command will allow the user to change identical stroke and fill colours simultaneously, rather than have to change the stroke colours and fill colours separately.

b.       Distinction – Not the same as using Global colour on a stroke and fill, where the global colour swatch can be changed, because this affects all items using that colour, not the selection exclusively.

c.       Procedure – Select the objects with the colour you wish to change, activate the “Colour Modify” command, choose the source colour, choose the new target colour, all the selected objects’ fill and stroke colours are modified if they are the exact same colour.

d.       Advantages, examples – This comes in handy of you have an asset comprised of a mixture of lines and shapes all the same colour and you wish to change that colour, which can be complicated when those objects are grouped, and/or have mixed colour stroke and fills.



Colour Modify....png

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The “Select By” command allows you to select objects by stroke, fill, or effect properties.

Believe me, I understand the need and the concept. But let's not set our sights too low. As far as programmatic selection features, I will never be satisfied until I see something at least match the elegance and power of Macromedia FreeHand's Graphic Find & Replace palette, which did far more than Illustrator's anemic Select Same commands and far more than you describe. It could find user-specified combinations of attributes and, when appropriate, within user-defined ranges. And not just styling attributes. The list of combined possibilities would be very long to list, so by just one example: Beyond finding mere stroke weight, it could select path lengths within a user-specified range.

Much of the time and tedium I spent writing Javascripts for Illustrator was to make poor-man's substitutes for some of the functions for which I most often employed FreeHand's GF&R.


Not the same as using Global colour on a stroke and fill, where the global colour swatch can be changed

But frankly, I think "global swatches" is the more appropriate way to do this. Again, I'll refer to FreeHand. To users first accustomed to FreeHand, Illustrator's whole "Global Swatch" thing was just one of many needless stumbling blocks. In FreeHand, every Color Swatch which the user took the time to store in the Swatch Palette was functionally "global." And why wouldn't it be? Why would I ever want to define and name a Swatch that I could not use to programmatically update objects to which it is already applied?


because this affects all items using that colour, not the selection exclusively.

FreeHand's treatment of this gently but effectively enforced a much needed measure of organizational discipline as the user worked. Knowing that Swatch edits updated objects to which it was applied, intuitively trains the users to define a differently named Swatch (even if it was of the same color values as other Swatches) for objects which should, for any reason, be treated separately in terms of color. That's a simple matter of duplicating a Swatch and changing its name.

This largely prevented the common beginners' bad practice of just applying colors willy-nilly, and then wishing they hadn't later.



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@JET_Affinity Thanks for chiming in on these ideas.  I have never used Macromedia Freehand, so I was not aware of those robust functions you describe, and yes, I would not want to limit the idea of "Select By" to just what I described, so selecting by ranges, line length, etc., would exceed my expectations.  Similarly, your comments on every colour functionally being a global colour is a great way to handle colour swatches.  This gets me excited again for the possibilities, so thanks for your comments!

I personally found Illustrator's colour manipulation tools clunky to use and I cannot say I am loving Affinity Designer's solutions either.  Without offering any concrete suggestions, I wish the colour tools were more elegant and intuitive to use.  Serif, I realize your job is not easy, and to make something not just functional, but a joy to use, is really difficult.  Please consider this as constructive feedback to help grow your new customer pool.  "Elegant" is what inspires a user base to become passionate, evangelical and sell your product with very little advertising.

After thinking about how I use my time creating assets for clients with Affinity Designer, I wanted to present the following use-case.

I love creating assets for clients from scratch.  Nothing beats the joy of assessing their needs, collaborating on concepts, and then creating a unique set of assets they are happy ultimately with.  But the other side of my job, the less glorious, but inanely practical side of my work, is taking a client's existing assets and building something new from it. This is, for example, an old PDF with a chart in it that needs to be revamped.  If I can reuse some of the old vectors from that PDF, that would make my job much easier, or maybe the client just needs a few tweeks, like updating the font or updating a few colour choices.  This is where powerful selection tools or "find & replace" tools become essential.  I think that is it:  Powerful "Find & Replace" tools can relieve tedious tasks and save designer's time!  Please continue to look at the Affinity suite of products through that lens.

Serif, I hope this offers you a perspective that I am sure is shared, and has been shared, by many of your enthusiastic users.  I just wanted to express my feedback to help make your Affinity tools more valuable.  Please consider this use-case and incorporate these ideas.  Thank you.

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